State loses personal data for 2,550 patients, employees and others
December 15, 2010
• California Department of Public Health calls is a ‘security incident’
• Data was not encrypted
A magnetic tape, packed with the unencrypted confidential medical and other data of up to 2,550 clients, California Department of Public Health employees and health care workers, has gone missing, the department says.
The computer tape disappeared when it was being delivered from one department facility to another, the department says.
CDPH is currently notifying affected individuals, telling them how to protect themselves from identity theft. At this point, there is no evidence that unauthorized parties have acquired or accessed personal information, the department says.
“The privacy of medical and other personal information is a top priority for CDPH,” says CDPH Director Mark Horton. “We immediately implemented procedure and policy changes to prevent such errors from occurring in the future.”
The incident occurred when a CDPH field office in West Covina, in the Los Angeles area, sent a magnetic tape to the central office in Sacramento as part of the procedure for backing up its computer data. The magnetic tape was unlabeled and was sent via the mail.
The unsealed – and empty -- envelope got there on Sept 27, CDPH says.
The department only revealed the security breach this week.
On Nov. 23, CDPH completed compiling the list of individuals whose medical or other personal information may have been compromised as a result of the loss of the tape.
The confidential information on the lost tape includes employee e-mails, investigative reports, background information on health care workers, the names of health care facility residents and some information on their medical diagnosis, and Social Security numbers for CDPH employees and some facility residents and health care workers.